The Gem of Southern Illinois…

This morning I put out a post of the cons for my recent trip into southern Illinois so this afternoon I wanted to give you a gem to counterbalance it. That gem is Giant City Lodge.

Before I do that I want to give you a little background on my habits during my uRV trips. I usually stay the night at a State park at during the trip. Part of my ritual is to get up early as I usually do and find a local restaurant that serves breakfast.  I do have a Coleman stove in the uRV but it is yet to be used. The microwave is primarily for heating up Big Mac and such that I buy  as carry-out for dinner. Camping just doesn’t include cooking and washing dishes if you ask me.

So as I was sitting at the campsite I got out the brochure about the Mississippi River routes in Southern Illinois that brought me to this place and found one of the highlights was the Giant City Lodge. I thought it was kind of strange to have a state park lodge as a highlight so I thought I would try it as that is the park where I was camping.

The next morning when I pulled up to the front of the lodge it was nice but not much different from most of them.  But when I got inside I found something completely different. I have been to many national park lodges and this one could compete with almost any of them for its beauty.

It was built by the CCC during the Roosevelt years of the 1930s.  I don’t know how long it took to build or how many people worked on it but it must have been quite a crew.  I happened to get their just as they were opening for the morning so except for one other elderly gentleman I had the dining room to myself. It was a very peaceful meal looking out the massive windows onto the beautiful courtyard.  Now without further ado here are some pictures for our enjoyment:


(Click on any of the pictures above to go to a larger slideshow view)

I want to close the post out with a little about the title of the park. While driving up to the park I never did see a Giant City, just a few small towns?  I guess the original inhabitants had some grandiose plans that just didn’t attract enough potential people to live out.  :)


It’s Hard To Be A Law Abiding Citizen..

I will say again but this time add a kicker, It’s Hard To Be A Law Abiding Citizen…When So Many Aren’t. It just seems human nature, the dark side that is, to not want to do what you are told. This is characteristic of our teenage years but goes way beyond that for too many of us.   We know there are concepts of the common good and the rule of law but somehow they don’t apply to us.

What brought this thought up was my recent uRV trip to southern Illinois. As usual I traveled almost exclusively state and county roads and quickly discovered that enforcement of traffic laws in that part of the country seems to be ZERO.  I never saw a police car during my total seven hundred miles of travel.

I want to make a blanket statement and that is at least 90% of the adult population in the U.S. break the law weekly if not daily. No, they might not rob banks or kill anyone (although with all the guns and taverns around I wonder why) but what they do is totally ignore our country’s traffic laws.  They run red lights on a regular basis and most often exceed the clearly posted maximum speeds by at least 10 to 20 mph. There are also the tailgaters, I seem to get the most upset about them!

I make it a rule while traveling the country in my tiny RV to never go faster than the posted limit but that is very difficult to do without a lot of stress. Here I am going 55 mph and many are passing me going 70 or more. Some dangerously so… They pass on curves with double yellow lines!   Even 18 wheelers were ripping by me and within a minute or two were gone from site they were going so fast..

2016-07-11_12-42-37.pngThe “rule of law” as far as traffic laws are concerned is just totally ignored in many parts of the country.  It seems law enforcement agencies have raised a white flag and handed over our streets to speeders and reckless drivers.

Just for the heck of it I looked up the statistics of the worst drivers by State.   It surprised me that Illinois is about in the middle of the pack.  Montana is the worst but as usual Texas isn’t far behind in any “worst” category.

2016-07-11_12-20-58.pngDon’t even get me started on the “distracted drivers” out there. It seems every other car had a driver with a phone welded to his ear and was more involved in conversation than with driving! I do like my road trip around the USA but I just wish people would drive more sensibly, at least while I am around.  :)

Sadly I know there are too many people that have so little control over their lives that they think they have to constantly risk it on the road in order to get someplace a few seconds earlier. They just don’t think they have the time to obey traffic laws. The absence of law enforcement means lawlessness, especially on our roads.

Chewing The Air…


Snippet BannerWhen I saw it was only going to get up to 87 today I dreamed about all the finishing touches I could put on the inside remodel of my micro-RV. I started the work about 8am and by 9:30 I had to call it quits. The temperature was only 82 but with the humidity so high from yesterday’s rain I was drenching in sweat.

I know it gets hot in the Southwest but I still cling to the belief that it is not the temperature that gets to you but the humidity. When you can chew the air it just feels hotter. I really want to finish up the latest tasks but I guess I will do it in 20 minute intervals.  Thank God for air-conditioning…

Bill Clinton takes on protesters in coal country

I know it is quite chic to be a Hillary and Bill basher right now. Especially with the Basher-in-chief, read that as Trump, tweeting almost hourly  lies and conspiracy theories about them.  But I must admit that I do miss Bill Clinton sometimes.  My 401k especially misses him!

He might not have been able to keep his zipper up but he was the master of logic in his thinking. The rally in West Virginia shows that he hasn’t lost it. He says things that I would have said in the same circumstances.  He just has a way of putting things in very simple and real terms. Let’s look at some of his most recent quotes:

2016-07-07_09-30-45.png“I’m not like a lot of people. It doesn’t bother me to have protesters at rallies,” the former president began.

“I’m glad they come, because I think one of the biggest problems in America today is we seem to be less prejudiced about a lot of things, except we don’t want to be around anybody who disagrees with us. You notice that?”…

Hillary Clinton seemed to confirm that perception in March, at a town hall in Ohio, when she said that a transition to clean energy would “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” She later said she had made “a misstatement,” but the comment contributed to her loss Tuesday in West Virginia, a state whose Democratic primary she had won by a landslide in 2008.

“I think ‘Make America Great Again’ means that we’ll make it like it was in the 1960s, even if [we] have to put another wall up,” he said. “Well, if you think you can do it, have at it, but no place else in the world that mines coal has been able to do it.”

“Don’t tell me we can’t bring different kinds of jobs,” he admonished. “Don’t tell me you’re not smart enough to do it, and don’t tell me nobody over a certain age can learn this stuff.”

SOURCE:  Bill Clinton takes on protesters in coal country – The Washington Post

Bill Clinton is a debater. He loves facing off with those who might not think as he does. Now that he will no longer be seeking a political office  he doesn’t parse as many words as most politicians.  He is free to say what he thinks and often does just that to the embarrassment of his wife.

This post is  very much aligned with the one from yesterday about being replaced by robots. Let’s face it coal is quickly becoming yesterday’s energy resource and therefore needs to be replaced by other commodities. It is as simple as that. But the problem is that there are just too many in certain areas of the country who depend solely on coal as a means of income. There is little else available to bring income into the family.

We can’t go forwards by going backwards, it is that simple. Now I admit that it will be decades, if it even happens that rural Pennsylvania and especially much of West Virginia can replace coal jobs. The short term solution will probably be to simply move someplace else. But that is emotionally hard for some to do…

Another Car Guy Place..

I’m not done with the Deusenberg Museum yet but I kind of figure you can’t take too much of that beauty at one time so I need to ration it out.  :)  But I did fine another museum behind that one that is worth the visit if you are in the area.  I admit that I got there just 10 minutes before that closed so they let me take a quick “free” visit. I managed to quickly snap some pictures of the trucks there.

Race With The Machines….


Too many things in life now seem to just concentrate on the negative. Lost jobs, not enough healthcare, not enough of this or that.. On almost anything in life you can put either a positive or a negative spin on it. Why we choose the negative approach so often is beyond me. But then again don’t I do that too?

Maybe the real policy priority should be making sure that workers can do more of what robots can’t and a dynamic economy produces a never-ending supply of new jobs for the robots to try and steal. “Journalists and expert commentators overstate the extent of machine substitution for human labor and ignore the strong complementarities that increase productivity, raise earnings, and augment demand for skilled labor,” economist David Autor says. Mayb2016-06-02_08-43-08.pnge we should race with the machines as opposed to against them, in the metaphor of MIT’s Eric Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. As for the weak 2000s job market, Autor thinks a series of one-off economic blows — the bursting of the dot-com and housing bubbles, the financial crisis, and China trade shock — are likelier culprits than automation….

A new analysis from the OECD — an advanced economy think tank — finds only 9 percent of U.S. jobs face “high automatability.” Instead of broadly looking at what occupations can be automated, the OECD researchers look at the “task-content” of jobs. Different jobs may contain a mix of tasks, each with varying levels of automation potential….

As with trade, not everyone is a winner with automation, even if it’s a net benefit to society. In particular, the OECD study notes that low-skill workers are likely to “bear the brunt” in terms of needing retraining.

SOURCE:  The overhyped fantasy of basic income vs. robots

For four summers while going to college in the 1960s I worked in a factory setting. It was a machine shop that made emergency exit doors. I’m sure all of those jobs are now being done by robots and rightly so.  They were mind numbing but then robots don’t mind that.

Most progress in this world, and there has certainly been much of that in my seventy year lifetime, is stressful to some.  When cars replaced the horse and buggy many lamented of all the noise and such and the loss of horse stable jobs. They fought cars tooth and nail so to speak.

Yes, robots are replacing many jobs previously done by people and that is a good thing as far as I am concerned. We humans are destined for greater things than sitting in a chair doing the same thing over and over and over again. The basic problem with this is that too many of us don’t have the encouragement to be confident that we can do things that require us to use our minds. Too many of us don’t think we are smart enough, or maybe we are just too lazy to do the work to make that happen.

When Leaving Religion Costs You Everything…

When I read the words in the source article below they rang very true to me. Even though I was not a minister like he was I too felt the cost of being forced  out of a church community for having  different/unacceptable beliefs. I dared, among other things to say the earth was more than 6,000 years old.

After 36 years in the Evangelical Charismatic movement in Tennessee, Dave left his faith. “For me,” he says, “it all started with a critical examination of the Bible and how it came to be…when I quit making excuses for the inconsistencies and contradictions, it started to have some gaping holes in it.”….

After enough time in rigorous study, he says he saw the Bible as a collection of books written by very human individuals. Now he’s a stranger and pilgrim in a foreign land. “I feel like an alien here in the south. It’s all about where you go to church here,” he says.

Dave is not alone.

Source: When Leaving Religion Costs You Everything – The Daily Beast

No, Dave is not alone. There are probably millions of us who dared to critically examine their bible and came to the conclusion that it is very similar to Dave’s. When I quit letting the religious leaders tell me how homogeneous the bible was and discovered many places such as the paragraph that Lutherans base their religion on that works are irreverent, faith is all that matters an then read St James, the brother of Jesus, who said faith without works is worthless. Let’s face it when different men (and I do mean men, no women authors to be found) put out their opinions of religion/faith/morality there are bound to be conflicts. And they are relatively easy to discover if you really look at the Bible in the least bit critically.

I always found it strange that so many in the evangelical circles quote St. Paul much more than they do Jesus especially given the fact that Paul was the only apostle who never sat at Jesus’ feet to learn the lessons first hand. In fact the only direct encounter with Jesus was that  quick flash on the road to Damascus. If you read his words, and he has more words in the Bible than any other author, it becomes pretty obvious that he made up his own rules for what to believe in order to be called a Christian. I’m not sure he ever mentioned any of the words of Jesus in his epistles and that is probably because he had no first-hand knowledge of them.

No, Dave is not alone with his feelings and observations. While the Bible is made up of opinions of different author, that does not take away from its value to those who concentrate on the words of Jesus. It is a great history book and is, along with other writing not chosen to be included, the source of most of our information about Christ.

2016-07-09_17-58-37.pngBut there is also the shunning to goes on when one leaves a faith community. I always thought I made very good friends there but once I left only one couple even attempted to stay in contact. The two we considered ” best friends” never said a word to us after that day! Everyone just dropped us from their contact lists. That devastatingly changed everything in my wife’s social world and that is perhaps the biggest sorrow of all for me…

Rapp-Owen Granary

The Rapp-Owen Granary is just one of perhaps a hundred buildings that have survived from the two utopian communities that were established in New Harmony Indiana. The Rapp-Owen Granary is perhaps the largest and most elegant.  If you are ever near southern Indiana and have an interest in history, especially utopian communities New Harmony is well worth a visit. (click on any of the pictures above to see a larger slideshow)

I enlarged some ofd the words  in one of pictures for easier reading here:



About Lessons Learned

2016-07-07_08-40-49.pngI came across the words in this banner at a fairly early age so I grew up with the idea that learning history was an important life lesson each of us must accomplish. Then recently I learned that history majors in most American colleges are not required to take one class in American history.  How can the be so? Finally I  found the story which contains the quotes below and the loop was closed so to speak. But first the source quotes:

I grew up in a solidly conservative Christian homeschool family. I was taught that the United States was special, set apart—somehow preordained and substantively different from the rest of the world. Ours was a historically Christian nation, a nation of people striving to do God’s will, a City on a Hill. Our ancestors were especially moral, especially hardworking, especially close to God, and God poured out his blessing on us. We spread from coast to coast, improving everything we touched, settling and building a prosperous, godly nation. Religion and politics worked together, hand in hand, and religion was key to our nation’s success, progress, and growth. We were a moral and religious people, blessed by God….

When I turned 18 I left home to attend a state college, and it was there that I studied history outside of this conservative lens for the first time. My professors didn’t set out to create a narrative of horror and atrocities, and the classes I took were in many ways very conventional, but there was just so much there that I hadn’t realized—that I hadn’t seen—and as I learned more I simply couldn’t hold onto the view I’d been taught…

This country does not belong to those who have perpetuated oppression. It also belongs to those who have fought oppression. This is something progressives should claim more vocally. When we push back against problems we see in America today—when we question and challenge our own country—we are not anti-American, we are as American as they come. We are building on a long history of oppression-fighters and change-makers; we have heroes to remember and ideas to draw on. We also have scores of cautionary tales, of pitfalls to watch out for and of things to avoid. We know what evil looks like, because our nation has embraced evil more times than we care to count—and some of us have ancestors who were on the wrong side of past fights. But we also know what fighting that evil and championing something better looks like, because we can point to historical figures and movements that did just that. We are replete with heroes to celebrate and emulate.

Source: Do Progressives Hate American History?

The person writing the story found out that his early history lessons were far from reality.  While I wasn’t home schooled I too had  very skewed lessons in American history and many other things before I went to college.  It was there that I got my first real taste for the diversity and life’s lessons.

It was in college in the 1960s that I learned of the oppressions of the past and the dark side of our nation. Not everything was as rosy as I had first been taught, but that is human nature playing its role.

The basic lesson  taught in this story is that those who push against our country’s inherent problems are the real ones who make America great.  Complaining doesn’t make you a troublemaker, it makes you the patriot. We all need to learn the history of the past as it really happened and not as some wished it to be. In other words, questioning everything is a necessary part of a healthy democracy.

It’s A Deussy

I want to go back and visit the Deusenberg Museum  in Auburn Indiana once again with this post. There is so much beauty in that place it is almost overwhelming to a car guy like me.

(as usual click on any picture to see a larger slideshow)

It really is this simple: Donald Trump should not be president of the United States

I have some pretty strong feeling about the Trump candidacy but no where close to the author of the source below. But I do share is simple conclusion,


Did I shout that loudly enough for you?

Since he clinched the nomination, Trump has managed the seemingly impossible by becoming even more erratic and even less presidential th2016-06-10_09-01-56.pngan he was during the primaries. The insults, the transparent lies, the racist taunting and bullying, the demagoguery, the narcissistic self-obsession, the incapacity to take a position and stick to it, the failure to raise funds and manage a campaign — the man has no business running anything of public consequence, let alone the government of the most powerful nation on the planet.It really is that simple: Donald Trump should not be president of the United States. If there is even a small chance of successfully deposing him at the convention — an act that, if it worked, would deprive him of the means to compete in the general election — it should be undertaken. The alternative is complicity in a politically reckless and blatantly irresponsible endeavor: the attempted election of a candidate who deserves to lose.

Source: It really is this simple: Donald Trump should not be president of the United States

I don’t think Mr Trump is an idiot but his actions certainly indicate that.  I have an idea that he really doesn’t want to be president so he is saying the most outrageous things to finally turn people away.  The problem with that is that the more outrageous he rants the more his “base” cheers!! I just can’t fathom what the thoughts are behind that group.

Are his supporters so pissed off about almost everything that they want to take down the U.S into flaming oblivion? They didn’t get their share so they are hoping that the next time around they will be luckier.  Or do they actually believe that he can “fix” anything? Either way that group scares me to tarnation.  We have had a good 240 year existence, is that about to end?  I don’t know but I kind of hope we can hold it together at least as long as I am walking this earth🙂.   I don’t expect I have more than a decade or so left, can we at least hold it together that long? I certainly would appreciate it…

Great Britain’s reign lasted about that length of time and so did the Roman empire.  Have we run our course? Is it time for another country/belief system to take over. I can see China is chomping at the bits to have their time at the throttle.  Would communism prove to be more long lasting than capitalism? Maybe we will soon have a chance to test that out.

Is Trump the beginning of the end for the USA and its form of democracy? Is this where the wings fall off our soaring aspirations of diversity? I don’t think I will be around when it happens but they say that everything on the Internet will always be around so maybe these words to serve as an “I told you so” after I am dead and buried.

I didn’t count them but this post probably has the most question marks of any I have written.  :)

Trip Report – Southern Illinois… Give Them a Break..

I have several interesting posts to do on my just completed micro-RV trip into southern Illinois. As usual I managed to avoid interstate highways for  all but four miles of the 700+ adventure.  Anyone even vaguely familiar with Illinois know that the vast majority of the state’s population resides in the extreme northeast around Chicago. I can hereby attest that there are almost no people in the southern half of the state!  OK, maybe I am exaggerating a little bit but only a little.

I must have gone through 100 small towns during my two day visit. Almost none of them had over two or three hundred people. There was most often only one business left open in each town and that was a post office.  It was most often surrounded by abandoned buildings!  I can just imagine in my mind’s eye the post master in that building with cobwebs around him while sleeping on the job.  Which brings me to the main topic of this particular post.

S Illinois.jpgThe post office is having a terrible time trying to exist given the rules and regulations legislated at the national level. This fact is one of the glaring examples of how federal intrusion can skew normal business practices.  Why in the world does a post office need to remain open in a town where there isn’t even a grocery store? If the residents can’t, or maybe won’t support a place to buy groceries why does there have to be a local post office?

If it is necessary to go to another town to buy a can of beans why not postage stamps too? We should make some kind of rule to that effect even if it is only “when the last store closes in the town the post office also closes.  Now I’m not talking about ceasing mail delivery, that can be done from another location. Closing seldom used post offices  would probably save billions of bucks for USPS. If they were allowed to use normal business practices such as UPS uses I’m sure they would not be in the trouble they are. To carry this one more logical step make it a rule that the nearest local post office is in the county seat. That’s where most of the businesses and I’m sure WalMarts are now.

I think the real reason for all these unnecessary buildings and employees to occupy them is mostly political. Your local congressman is just too afraid that some might vote him out of office if he dared to eliminate their post office. It’s mostly political….

Give them a break!!  They have a hard enough time justifying themselves here in the 21st century as it is.  About 95% of what I now get in my mailbox is junk mail. Everything else come to me over the Internet.  Let’s shut down post offices in low density areas and use the money to improve Internet services in those same areas.  Lord knows that most of us in rural areas could use some decent Internet speeds.   Everyone would be better off with that approach…


Happy July 4th… And…


First of all I want to hope everyone has a good day on this important national holiday. 240 years ago a bunch of rebels got the idea to make a nation based on freedom of choice. The exact right group got together to hash out the details and those details have allowed us to for the most part flourish since then. I thank God for the wisdom of our founders. If only we could get a little of that today, especially in our presidential campaign… but that is another story.

Now comes the “And” part of the title.  In yesterday’s post I talked about the strange, at least to me, fascination with our country’s wars. Some make it a major part of their lives to recount every battle in our biggest failure as a country and that was the Civil War. They celebrate our biggest failures? Some, especially in the south, look back at the pre-Civil War days as the time when America was at its greatest.

Too many are too fascinated with our wars!  Even our national anthem glorifies the little known war of 1812 and particularly the battle of Fort McHenry in the Baltimore harbor. Some say that war was chapter two of our war for independence. I believe we as a nation of immigrants are much greater than our wars.  For that reason I would love to see a drive to replace our current national anthem with “This Land Is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie.

Our National Anthem should celebrate the beauty of our land and our success as a people who cherish our land everyone who fills it.  Woody Guthrie’s song epitomizes that feeling.  I will close out here with the lyrics to again say:

Happy July 4!!!

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.
As I was walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway
I saw below me that golden valley
This land was made for you and me.
I roamed and I rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
While all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me.
When the sun came shining, and I was strolling
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
A voice was chanting, As the fog was lifting,
This land was made for you and me.
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

(Original 1944 lyrics)

Memorial Day Is Not On the Church’s Calendar

I have been holding off on this post so as not to offend some people’s views of that holiday.

My friends at Red Letter Christians have spurred me in thoughts once again. This time it is about Memorial Day. I have always found it strange that we as a nation celebrate our wars. Some even seem obsessed with them. To me war is the failure to accomplish our goals in a Christ like manner of peace.  Here are some brave words about that:

2016-07-02_07-22-21.pngTo a great extent nationalistic claims merge with claims of Christian faith in Memorial Day sermons so that the distinctiveness of Christian faith is blurred. Preacher David Whitten compared death of soldiers to the incomparable sacrifice of Jesus: “Thank God for those who died to make us free….Similarly the price Jesus paid afforded our salvation.” Similiarly? Such a comparison diminishes the astonishing nonviolent, self-giving act of God in Christ in order to bestow exaggerated honor on those who died in bloody conflict.

Despite the fact that freedom of religion was not at stake in a single American war, Whitten declared, “Because men died for this country we have a right to preach God’s word freely.” Yet freedom of religion for Americans has not been at stake in any war the nation has fought. Misleading assertions of this sort are not uncommon in Memorial Days sermons.

Memorial Day exercises in worship, like those in non-church settings, are all too often exercises in false memory. While lost loved ones are rightly grieved and courageous and sacrificial actions are justly admired, it is definitely not true that all American wars have been for just causes or fought in a just manner… To “remember” in a way that suggests otherwise, as many sermons have done, is deceptive and destructive, bestowing honor where honor is not due and illegitimately glorifying, not only warriors, but American wars.

Memorial Day rightfully is America’s holiday. But it is not one of the Church’s holy days and it should not be treated as though it is. It is no part of the church’s purpose to celebrate the wars or the war dead of any nation. Christians come together in worship as a transnational community of faith bound together by Christ, not nationality.

SOURCE:  Memorial Day Is Not On the Church’s Calendar – Red Letter Christians

“Bound together by Christ, not nationality” is a real but seemingly pretty naive thinking in today’s world but that is my reality. I know I am often one who goes against the grain of conventional thinking so you should not be surprised by my words.  To even have the U.S. flag behind most church alters is wrong headed to me. We are told that we should be children of humanity through Christ who knew no borders in his teachings.

I am a U.S. history buff in that I have read hundreds of books on the topic and have also visited hundreds of historical site throughout the country. But I purposefully avoid the monuments and battlefields of our wars. Wars are not to be celebrated, but they should be mourned for the loss of life they incur. That is what Memorial Day is to me…


U.S. Reveals Death Toll From Airstrikes

When I voted for President Obama in 2008 I saw him as someone who would take a biblical dove view of the world and treat war and murder as an abomination to be avoided at all costs except for eliminating imminent danger for U.S. citizens.  He has proven to NOT be that person. In fact he seems no better than any of his predecessors. It funny how all those generals in the flashy uniforms and many medals can turn a peace leader into a hawk.

WASHINGTON — Partially lifting the secrecy that has cloaked one of the United States’ most contentious tactics for fighting terrorists, the Obama administration on Friday said that it believed that airstrikes it has conducted outside conventional war zones like Afghanistan have killed 64 to 116 civilian bystanders and about 2,500 members of terrorist groups.

The official civilian death count is far lower than estimates compiled by independent organizations that try to track what the government calls targeted killings, and human rights groups expressed doubts about the reliability of the government’s numbers. Most of the strikes have been carried out by drones in chaotic places like Libya, tribal Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, though a small number have involved traditional aircraft or cruise missiles.

Source: U.S. Reveals Death Toll From Airstrikes Outside War Zones – The New York Times

As mentioned in the source above he took President Bush’s use of drones and elevated them to an extreme level. We are told that the innocent lost of life because of these drone strikes are one of the primary reasons so many hate us in that part of the world.  They strike so quietly and devastatingly to strike terror into innocent citizens of those Middle East countries. Yes, we are known by some as terrorists in that part of the world.

If only we could have admitted our mistakes as soon as they happened we might be in a very different place in our world.  But given the renowned bravado of U.S. citizens that was never going to happen. We would never say we were wrong about WMDs and then quietly leave. Instead we simply dig a deeper and deeper hole for ourselves.  Instead of liberators we have become those hated Americans to far too many in that part of the world.

Vietnam was the war of my generation. We invaded that country to keep the world free of communism. Of course we know that didn’t happen. In fact our number one trading partner, read someone who makes all our “stuff”,  is an avowed communist nation.  We also know that the body counts the generals came up with in that war were grossly over stated. I admit that because of that and other things I am a skeptic when it comes to information coming out of our military establishment, they are all kind of Dr. No’s to me, so I expect the same thing this time around.

Hillary Clinton who is likely, if we maintain our sanity as a nation, our next president is on the surface is much more hawkish than the current office holder. I can’t imagine what kind of trouble she will get us into.  My mantra is “Give Peace A Chance”. Pretty naive isn’t it?

We Don’t Really Need Their Votes…

Its about time the the Democratic Party quit even trying to pander to the racist southern white vote. They are going to hate Democrats until the day they die. It was heartening to see that the latest Democratic Party platform has nothing in it for them

Perhaps this new confidence comes from Democrats’ understanding that they have majority support in the country, and simultaneously realizing that there’s little they can do to win over the voters who despise them, particularly in the South. After years of approaching conservative white voters on their knees — Watch, I’ll go hunting! I’ll go to a NASCAR rally! Will that make you happy? — Democrats have decided that they don’t really need those voters, and they’d do better to serve the people who might actually vote for them….

At this point it’s hard to imagine how the GOP could get any more conservative unless it started advocating burning witches at the stake. Republicans’ growing ideological extremism may have freed Democrats up to be themselves without worrying about whether they might alienate some white guy from Alabama whose vote they were never going to win anyway. And the spreading understanding of the Democrats’ demographic advantage — where they have strong support among most of the groups whose proportion of the population is growing — serves to make them even more bold.

Source: How the Democratic Party quit being wimpy

Maybe Donald Trump will end up being a good thing for this country. It shows us that a significant portion of our population are out of the mainstream of 21st century American life so extremely that they should be ignored and eventually they will go away simply by attrition. The racist southern white vote still makes up a large percentage of the Republican party but most are greying and will soon leave the scene.

Given how easy it was for Trump to capture the Republican nomination for president I too find it hard to imagine the GOP could get any more conservative.  Their numbers are shrinking but not fast enough for me. I wish the moderates of that party, of which I was once one, would take back control but I wouldn’t mourn the collapse of the party to be replaced by something more willing to live in the future instead of an imagined past.

I have been finding more and more articles about young people who are embracing the challenges of today. They are prepared to take on significant debt in order to get an education that will provide them with a pathway to the future. They are shunning the 3,000 square foot homes in favor of movable “tiny homes” of 400 SF or less.  This is a dynamic generation willing to move to wherever the jobs are.  Our government needs to embrace these attitudes and help them along the way.  The first contribution is to somehow make higher education more affordable.

Sadly we need to write off many around today. Mainly those who are stuck in a very hateful past or those who are not willing to put in the effort to join the middle class. That is our future…

On The Road Again… The Mississippi

I am getting ready to hit the road again in an hour or so. This time I will be touring southern Illinois particularly along the Mississippi.  I thought it appropriate to leave you with some pictures of my Spring trip to Bridgeton Indiana.  It is in the middle of “covered bridge country” here in southern Indiana.

Guns and the Great USA…

I know guns are an emotional topic for many in this country. It is kind of like the immigration issue. Many of us have compassion for those who struggle to come to the “land of opportunity” but others see those coming, both legally and illegally, as someone to fear.  They fear they are rapists and murderers or at least taking away their jobs. Some see threats, some see love. I guess that is American diversity for you.

What are some of the common misconceptions Americans have about the gun industry, the NRA or the violence we see day in and day out? Most people believe that the NRA is an organization about gun rights. It’s not – it’s the lobbying arm of the for-profit gun industry. They work for the gun industry to sell more and more guns. Thus, it is not their priority to support any rational restrictions to our legislators that would make society safer.

Source: Making a Killing – Guns, Greed and the NRA – Red Letter Christians

The sad fact is that there are now more guns in this country than there are people. I hear the latest episode of the guy to went in and shot over one hundred people has caused the gun model he used to fly off the shelves! How sick is that.  I also learned that those who own guns often times own many of them. It is not unusual to see “gun collectors” having dozens of guns in their collections.

In many ways America is a land of obsessions. We have the privilege of having most of the necessities in life satisfied and that allow us to unreasonably seek out unnecessary things. Then there are the survivalists among us who are preparing for doomsday. They say with their firepower to hold off the hordes they will be the ones who will survive. Personally I can’t imagine that kind of lifestyle that fixates on such a scenario.  Give me love not fear for the cornerstone of my life.

Guns, especially assault rifles, are solely a means of human destruction. To think that they are a necessity is absurd if you ask me. America is a land of obsession. The definition of obsessions that it is an unhealthy and compulsive preoccupation with something or someone.  Yeah, that fits gun ownership to a T but that is not our only obsession.

We seem to be obsessed with having whatever the marketers point us to.  Now it is not good enough to have a comfortable home to provide us with shelter.  Now we must have outdoor fire pits, outdoor kitchens, even living rooms. We must have the latest designs and will go into serious debt to get them.

Its great that America, the land of opportunity, provides us with the ability to obsess over whatever we want but acting on those obsessions can be a very damaging thing to ourselves and especially our society.

Wicked Theology

When I came across this post a while back it got my immediate attention as the topic is probably one of the primary reasons that more and more people are declaring themselves spiritual but not religious.  There is just too much baggage attached to too many of our religious institutions today.  Too many twist the words  of Jesus to match their current view of the world.

2016-06-26_11-18-58Applying his expertise in a nefarious way, Burk argues that when Jesus imagines judgment according to how we treat “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40, 46), he means not poor people in general but fellow Christians who face mistreatment when sharing their faith and pursuing the path of righteousness….

You hear wicked theology from time to time…. Wicked theology takes Jesus’ saying, “The poor you always have with you,” as a warrant to ignore the problem of poverty. I’ve even had a friend argue that since Jesus did not command governments to provide a social safety net, Christian citizens ought not support one. Let’s think that one through: right-wingers take the Bible’s silence on modern social welfare programs as evidence Christians should support limited government. These arguments are just a wicked twist on the gospel message, making mountains out of molehills and ignoring the whole.

Wicked theology is not going away. Not that long ago, Jerry Falwell announced that God is pro-war in promoting an invasion of Iraq. Not long before that, he defended segregation. Wicked theology basically amounts to providing biblical cover – a pretense – for systems of inequality and exploitation. We need to call it when we see it.

SOURCE:  Wicked Theology

It is kind of surprising that the author of the words above is a Baptists professor. Flat- Bible advocates, of which many Baptists are a part, believe that every word in the Bible comes directly from God and that no words found there are any more important than any others.  For those who call themselves Christians but don’t think Christ’s words are of any particular value beyond the thousands of other people in that document is beyond comprehension to me.

Putting a particular, and often wrong headed, spin on the Bible and particularly Jesus’ words totally turns my stomach.  To take perhaps the most important words of Jesus and to twist them to take the focus off poor people is heresy as far as I am concerned.  Almost as bad is to use the Bible to justify war,  inequality, and exploitation. It is sad that so many famous Christian preachers have followed Jerry Falwell in that latter endeavor. The most dis-heartening is the son of Billy Graham who takes the words of his father and turns them on their head!

I know the words hypocrite are used a lot to describe Christians but that is far too often a very appropriate phrase.  Yes, I am aware that there are many many Christians who, like me, cling to the words of Jesus but we are really shadow Christians. We don’t often enjoy the attention that the famous preachers have.  But as far as I am concerned we are the real face of Christianity…. but far too many people don’t realize that fact…

New Harmony

This is a needed “lighten up” day so I thought I would give you some more facade pics of my recent uRV trip to New Harmony Indiana.  When so many small towns are piling on the dust bins of history  it is nice to see that some are almost flourishing.

(as usual click on any image below to see a larger slideshow version)

On The Wrong Side Of Yet Another Issue…

It seems that the GOP is on the wrong side of yet another issue important to U.S. voters. 85% of us want congress to act to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists. So what does the GOP do?  As usual they prevent it from happening.

2016-06-24_07-38-56.pngSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday cut the legs out from a bipartisan effort to keep suspected terrorists from buying guns.

In doing so, McConnell, a master of the Senate’s arcane rules, provided cover for vulnerable Republicans who wanted to be seen as supporting the effort, but did not want to cross the National Rifle Association.

“The scenario that Sen. McConnell set up was textbook McConnell,” said Brian Darling, a former Senate Republican aide.

McConnell had promised a vote this week to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) on her bipartisan measure barring people on two key terrorist watch lists from buying guns or explosives.

But what he scheduled was not what she had in mind.

Instead of setting up a vote to add the Collins legislation to the pending appropriations bill on the Senate floor, McConnell scheduled a vote to discard it.

The Collins bill survived that test in a 46-52 vote, but it fell far short of winning 60 votes, the threshold necessary to overcome procedural hurdles.

The result allows Republicans to argue that no other action is necessary.

“It didn’t have sixty votes. That’s what a motion to table does. It demonstrates where the votes are,” said Don Stewart, McConnell’s spokesman.

SOURCE: McConnell quashes Senate effort on guns | TheHill

I have heard their argument that the proposed bill might prevent someone who is not a terrorist from purchasing as many guns  and ammunition as he wants. The GOP seem to be willing to sacrifice thousands of us to prevent that from happening!

Sooner or later the ones still clinging to the ultra conservative cause will finally realize that they are riding a dead horse and abandon it.  Our obsession with guns has resulted in  many times more deaths than 911 ever did.

Sooner or later the ones still clinging to the ultra conservative cause will realize that the NRA is nothing more than a lobbying organization for the gun manufacturers.  I will admit that it was brilliant to get 5 million people to purchase memberships so it can be called a club but it is really no different than any other lobbying organization in that it protects those who pay their salaries and that is the ones who profit from gun sales.  The NRA membership make up about 1.5% of the U.S. population, so how do they yield so much power. They do it by attacking viciously anyone opposing them. Sounds kind of like one of our presidential candidates doesn’t it?

A lot of stuff needs to change in the world today and much of it is right here in our country.   Before closing this post I need to get in a little snippet about Great Britain leaving the EU which is yet another conservative cause that is simply wrong headed in my mind. We, as a world, need to be coming together instead of splitting apart. It is the only way we will ever see the 22nd century.  Our world is just too small now for all of us to go our own ways…..

The Blob… aka The Bush Doctrine…

The Blob is an interesting description for our foreign policy in the last 15 years.  I like the description but I think it should be more appropriately named the Bush Doctrine.  Invade foreign countries and install a docile client state…

For nearly 15 years now, America has been in continuous war in the Middle East, and for about the last 10 of those years, the U.S. foreign policy establishment (a.k.a. “the Blob2016-06-23_12-01-24“) has been consumed with narrow tactical questions. Both the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq had strategic objectives — defeat al Qaeda and install a docile imperial client state, respectively. The U.S. failed at both, of course, and the latter was monstrous in the extreme, but they were both at least comprehensible.

But since then, the focus of American foreign policy thinking has shrunk to a pencil’s width. Endless analysis has focused on counterinsurgency doctrine, the best use of drone strikes, under what circumstances special forces should be deployed, and so on….

By contrast, there is vanishingly little discussion of what all that force is supposed to achieve. Instead, there is only the bedrock post-9/11 view of the Blob: That if there are Islamist militants anywhere (but especially in the Middle East), then the U.S. military should be trying to kill them somehow. I suggest that if the U.S. ever wants to stop squandering hundreds of billions of dollars in an endless military campaign that causes more problems than it solves, a return to strategic thinking will be a necessary first step.

SOURCE: How America stopped thinking strategically about the Middle East

I know some of you young guys out there don’t know about “The Blob” so maybe I need to educate you a little. The Blob was a movie made in 1958 starring a very young Steve McQueen. It was about a shapeless mass that was trying to take over the world…

Yeah that sounds like the Bush Doctrine to me, a shapeless mass.  But like Vietnam of my generation we failed miserably. I don’t know a lot of the history of the Middle East but I do know that there have been warring factions battling each other for at least a thousand years there. They just don’t seem to know how to get along with each other. Many among the current day terrorists are Muslims but the fact is that 98% of their victims are also Muslim. If we were to just leave them alone I expect that number would quickly get back to 99+%.

I hope the next president has some more common sense and is able to think strategically  but given the present choices I think we will have to wait a few more years for that.  We need a strategic thinker in the White House.  I was hoping it would be our current president would fill that bill but since he seems to love his drones more than strategy he disappointed me greatly in that regard.



Remembering Santa Fe…

T3S Photos.jpg

ISOA BannerThis picture was taken last year on our trip to Santa Fe.  It is one of my favorites from that vacation. I still have Santa Fe on my mind. It is so different from my usual stomping grounds.

Never Just One Source…

Will Rogers is perhaps my primary hero in life. He is the reason I started up blogging  ten years ago and still today I try to follow his philosophy  when blogging here at RJsCorner.


From Wills Facebook page

Like Will I can tell from a mile away those folks who only watch Fox News for all their info about the political world. Their obsession with fear of almost everything shows through in much of what they do.

Like Will I try to think for myself but I don’t make up facts to align with my worldview. Common sense can explain much of the world today but it seems that so many of the pundits at Fox News and most of the others for that matter don’t have much of it.  When our news sources turned from an information providing public service to  for-profit institutions what sells the most is what is important to them. Giving balanced “reports” of the day has been long since abandoned.

There is just not enough people with common sense around anymore..

Even though you died several years before I was born I miss you Will and will try to carry on your tradition here at RJsCorner…

‘Of course’ ISIS is driven by Islam…

2016-06-03_08-41-53.pngI know that it may not be politically correct to say that ISIS is driven by Islam but the truth is the truth.. ISIS and all their offshoots take a part of the Koran and use it as an excuse for their extremism the same way that the KKK does with the Christian Bible.

“I hear so many people say ISIS has nothing to do with Islam – of course it has,” Mr. Ahmed said, using an acronym for the Islamic State. “They are not preaching Judaism. It might be wrong, but what they are saying is an ideology based on some form of Islamic doctrine. They are Muslims.”

“That is a fact and we have to get our head around some very uncomfortable things,” he added. “That is where the difficulty comes in for many journalists because the vast majority of Muslims won’t agree with them [ISIS].”

Paul Vallely, a journalism professor at the University of Chester who chaired the panel agreed, saying, “We need to open trainees’ eyes.”

“Religion is not on the way out, it is on the way in — in a big way,” he said.

SOURCE:  Aaqil Ahmed, BBC religion chief: ‘Of course’ ISIS is driven by Islam – Washington Times

Spiritual beliefs are a big part of human nature. Almost everyone has a basic need to know who created them and what is the “right” way to live on this earth. I chose the teachings of Jesus Christ as my spiritual foundation.  I take the red letters as found in the bible to heart and try to live my life accordingly. I looked to religion to strengthen my beliefs but was mainly disappointed with what I found there. Simply stated there was just too much unnecessary, often radical right political,  stuff clouds over the red letters for me.

There are many who are also disappointed with religion but take a very different track in life.  They take a  piece of a religious document and reject every thing else. ISIS as well as the KKK are examples of that group. I call them selective literalists.  But I think the crux of the truth is most of these deviants are just feeling insecure in their world. They fear this or that and try to ameliorate that fear with a rationalized religion.

ISIS is driven by Islam, that’s a fact but does that poison the many others who don’t take the extreme views that they do?  I don’t know but it does give us reason to be cautious when dealing with anyone of that variety.

I have almost come to the conclusion that religion does more harm than good in the world today. If God is really out there somewhere I think its time for her to come and straighten us out as to what she wants us to do while occupying space on this earth. We humans, including or maybe especially the theologians among us, have done a miserable job of it if you ask me. We have splintered into literally thousands of religions and they all can’t be right as each claims to be….

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